An infant died due to the alleged callous attitude of civil hospital staff, and thus a chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) of the Punjab government promised an "expert" inquiry. So far so good, just that the health minister is not impressed by the pace and manner.
Bickering within the government, and the state BJP in particular, came to the fore here on Wednesday when health minister Madan Mohal Mittal lashed out at CPS Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu for superseding him by ordering re-inquiry. "This is not the way an inquiry committee is constituted.
There was no relevance of ordering a re-probe before going through the report of a preliminary inquiry conducted by the five-member committee," said Mittal, while talking to HT over phone.
The five-member committee - headed by the additional deputy commissioner, comprising the Nakodar sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), the civil surgeon, and a gynaecologist and paediatrician from the civil hospital - has submitted its report to Vini Mahajan, the principal secretary for health, but the details are not out yet. "A new committee can be formed only if the report of preliminary inquiry is rejected," said Mittal.
CPS Dr Sidhu, who was a government doctor herself before resigning to successfully contest the assembly polls, had promised an inquiry by "medical experts" into the incident wherein the newborn son of a labourer had died after the child was denied facilities for non-payment of a fee of Rs 200. But Mittal said, "As for the question of conducting an inquiry by medical experts, we will first examine the five-member committee's report, issue showcause notices to staff found negligent, and proceed thereafter."
Meanwhile, Dr Sidhu took a step back and appeared more diplomatic. She said she has written to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal and the health minister, too, about her own findings into the case. She added that she has sought a copy of the report submitted by the five-member. "In case I find some missing points in the report, I will request chief minister to allow another committee, which I hope he will not say no to," she said.
She added, however, that if the points in the preliminary inquiry report could be addressed at the local level, "there will be no need of going ahead with the re-inquiry".
She told HT, "In the letter to the CM, deputy CM and the health minister, I have written what I came across while checking the file of the mother and the deceased infant." She reiterated that despite having six gynaecologists in the hospital, none was present when the premature and high-risk delivery was conducted.
"Besides mentioning the gross negligence done in treatment, I have apprised the CM that there was total negligence about the provisions of Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK) among the staff," she said. "It must be inquired why there was lack of information about the scheme."